ESG funding reduction should be reversed, say councils

The Local Government Association (LGA) has argued that the £600 million reduction proposed to the Education Services Grant (ESG) should be reversed to maintain improvement capacity within the schools system.

Claiming that there is no capacity within the system to withdraw funding and powers for councils to support schools, the LGA believes that support available through Teaching School Alliances, Multi-Academy Trusts and Regional Schools Commissioners is not yet geographically comprehensive and does not have the track record of success that council school improvement and oversight has.

It is understood that approximately £815 million per year has been spent on the ESG for councils and academies, leading the LGA to argue that the proposed £600 million reduction will leave councils with little resource to perform their statutory duties.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: “The government has been clear that councils will have a continuing role in school place planning, school admissions and protecting the needs of the most vulnerable children, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

“Councils need sufficient funding and powers to discharge these vital responsibilities. This includes reserve powers in support of their place planning and vulnerable pupil responsibilities to direct schools of all types, if voluntary agreement cannot be reached.

"We do not believe there is capacity within the system to withdraw funding and powers for councils to support school improvement and hold schools to account in August 2017 as currently planned by the government.

"The £600 million proposed cut to the Education Services Grant should be reversed to maintain improvement capacity within the schools system. This will benefit both council-maintained schools and academies."

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